Theatre show honors historic black leaders

The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication in conjunction with the Capital City Chamber of Commerce presented the Black History Month Festival Theatre in Perry-Paige auditorium on Feb. 9.

The show opened with praise dance performed by the Community of Faith praise dancers. Following the praise dancers was a solo sung by FAMU alumnus Darnell Davis.

The event consisted of dramatic monologues presented by members of the Tallahassee community. Actors and actresses portrayed important figures in black history to pay tribute to black heroes.

Among those heroes were Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Zora Neal Hurston, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Carter G. Woodson.

Rhashii Demps, from Tallahassee, played Angelou, and recited one of her most famous poems, “Still I Rise.”

Shontaye Clemons, 12, from Latma Christian Academy, said she left the event feeling empowered.

After hearing Angelou’s poem, Clemons walked away with a newfound lesson.

“Nobody should ever make you stop doing what you want to do,” Clemons said. “Even if you get beat down, or people say mean things about you, you can still rise.”

Harriet Tubman, played by Geraldine Davis, informed the audience about the rights that people have.

“There are two guaranteed rights that people have,” Davis said. “A right to death, and a right to liberty.”

Through his monologue, Clinton Byrd brought Carter G. Woodson back to life and expressed the importance of understanding history.

“If we don’t read and record our history, we will forget where we come from,” Byrd said.

After learning about the historic black leaders who’d gone before them, the audience had a chance to hear from future black leaders in America.

Children took the stage and expressed their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, astronauts, engineers and teachers.

The program concluded with everyone standing and singing the Negro National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Darryl Jones, a FAMU alumnus, was the master of ceremonies.

“To see young people as well as older people come together and kids get an opportunity to learn about African-American history is real important,” Jones said.

Priscilla Hawkins, program coordinator, was displeased with the low number of attendees but was convinced that the purpose of the event was fulfilled.

“(The mission) is to make it easier for people to learn about and understand the contributions of African Americans in this country,” Hawkins said.”It may be just that one thing, that one action, that one person that they’ve come in contact with during this black history program that makes a difference for them.”